Nestled in a Southern California valley surrounded by mountains, is the city of El Cajon, also known as “The Big Box.” It is the home of this beautiful truck, known as Una Bella to its owners, Sage and Eric Conner. This ’50 GMC project truck started out as homage to a memory and turned into a wonderful vision of purple beauty, accompanied by a ’58 Shasta Canned Ham 10-foot travel trailer. This husband and wife team created a mobile work of art that turns heads everywhere it goes.
For Sage Conner, building her ’50 GMC was more than restoring a fond childhood memory of spending time with her father. Ever since childhood, Sage admired her father’s 1950 Chevy pickup. Although it had no heater or air conditioning, Sage enjoyed getting driven to and from school and making lifelong memories along the way. Even after getting married to her husband Eric, “Rusty Bolts” as they called it, remained in the family until one day, without Sage knowing, her father sold the truck and the memory was gone forever. It killed Eric to see his wife so depressed after they found out, and he decided to surprise her with a Christmas present she’d never forget.
For months, Eric scoured the Internet to find a 1950 truck that looked like Rusty Bolts and kept coming up empty. Finally, three days before Christmas, a rusty 1950 GMC truck popped up on Craigslist in the area that was identical to her father’s old Chevy pickup. Without hesitation, Eric bought the ’50 GMC for $4,000 and drove it back to his shop, SoCal Suspension, to hide it until Christmas morning. Then when the morning arrived, Eric had one of his employees drive the truck to their house and park it in the garage for Sage to find. Sage was ecstatic when the truck was revealed and both Sage and Eric had a new memory for the rest of their lives. It was to be their family project—to restore her childhood memory with a truck like her father’s.
With the truck in their possession, it was time to get to work. The original frame was stripped down to its stock ’rails, and the front half was replaced with a ’69 Camaro front clip. Next, the IFS front suspension was added and, since Eric is the owner of SoCal Suspension, installation was a breeze. In order to get that lowered stance, McGaughy’s 2-inch drop spindles replaced the originals. For a deeper drop, all four corners of the truck are riding on Universal Air bags to give it that ground-scraping show effect. To finish off the lowered stance the frame was notched for the four-link rear suspension, which holds the 9-inch Ford rearend. Being able to stop was a major factor, so they dumped the less-than-perfect drum brakes and replaced them with power discs all the way around. The steelies are from Early Wheel Company; the front wheels are 15x6 and the rears are 15x7, wrapped in American Classic rubber. To give the truck smoother handling, a ’69 Camaro power steering box was added.
To get the truck moving, the power comes from a 327 Chevy that came from a ’67 Corvette. It puts out 410 horsepower, and 375 lb-ft of torque on the engine dyno. Backing the 327 is a 700-R4 transmission that gives the truck a freeway-friendly ride. They topped the motor off with an Edelbrock air cleaner, an Edelbrock 650 carburetor, and firing the cylinders is a PerTronix ignition. Keeping the motor cool is a high-output electric fan on an aluminum radiator. Hedman headers carry the exhaust back to the 3-inch Flowmaster mufflers, to give the Una Bella a full-bodied sound.
And while the motor is sounding good under the hood, the beautiful exterior matches the beast inside. Many of the truck’s parts were missing, and Sage and Eric found it challenging to find or replace everything needed, but all their hard work paid off. The front end of the truck remained a ’50 GMC, while the hood seams were shaved to give it a cleaner, slicker appearance. Both builders enjoyed the style of the single-piece front window, so they found a ’54 five-window cab to achieve that look.
Keeping with the theme, they also located a ’54 bed to match the cab. They only other year used was for the ’49 doors bolted to the cab. Now that the pieces were together, the truck was ready to make the journey to Nick Battaglia at Loose Cannon Customs to lay down the beautiful House of Kolor Pavo Purple paint. It was then finished with tasteful pinstriping for the ultimate look. To make the truck shine, they re-chromed the ’50 grille as well as the shortened front and rear bumpers. Finally, Mooneyes taillights were installed, which give the truck some extra flash.
The interior is just as extravagant with a ’53 Chevy dash that is painted white with a pearl faded lace effect. The dash was outfitted with a pair of 5-inch gauges and atop the tilt steering column is a Mooneyes white three-spoke wheel. The seats are from an ’83 Blazer and have been reupholstered by Lindy’s Upholstery in pearl white tuck ’n’ roll, along with the door panels, while black carpet covers the floor. The most unique aspect of the interior would be the Hurst shifter with the working vintage microphone sitting on the top. It pulls off the perfect expression for the overall truck and speaks class and style about the owners.
In addition to the Una Bella, Sage and Eric acquired a ’58 Shasta Canned Ham 10-foot travel trailer to show off along with the truck. Chassis upgrades via a four-link and air bags were a must so it can sit as low as Una Bella. It has 13-inch smoothie rims wrapped in 2½-inch whitewalls and the same purple paint to match. The interior is set up with a retro 1950s diner appeal that completes the overall look for the truck and trailer. Together the travel trailer and Una Bella are sure to be showstoppers at any event.
From the moment Sage received the ’50 GMC on that Christmas morning, she and her husband Eric have continuously worked on the Una Bella. Together for a year and a half they’ve created new memories, but never forgetting the old ones that Una Bella represents. Now they are enjoying the truck together, taking it to local shows and cruising to major events to show off their hard work. They win trophies, awards, and respect from everyone in the community, and they plan on continuing that trend as long as the Una Bella is in motion.